Perhaps we could have killed Osama bin-Laden with a drone, but since he rarely left his compound, our soldiers had to go in and get him instead. In Whitley’s new novel Hybrids, he writes about machine-men who are engineered to be soldiers. The US seems pretty complacent about using drones for warfare, but the UK isn’t quite so sanguine about it: They think that growing use of unmanned aircraft in combat situations raises huge moral and legal issues. They also worry that wars will become more common once armed robots take over the fighting.
In the May 10th edition of the Financial Times, Daniel Dombey quotes departing Pentagon chief Robert Gates as saying, "Any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia, the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined."
In the April 17th edition of the Guardian, Richard Norton-Taylor and Rob Evans quote a report by the British Ministry of Defense (MOD) which says, "It is essential (to develop a policy about this) that before unmanned systems become ubiquitous (if it is not already too late), we ensure that, by removing some of the horror, or at least keeping it at a distance, we do not risk losing our controlling humanity and make war more likely." The report warns of the dangers of an "incremental and involuntary journey towards a Terminator-like reality."
One of the biggest problems with drone attacks is that so many civilians are killed by mistake. The report warns that the insurgents "gain every time a mistake is made," enabling them to cast themselves "in the role of underdog and the West as a cowardly bully that is unwilling to risk his own troops, but is happy to kill remotely." Could this report have been one of the things that convinced Obama to send in the Seals?
At our Dreamland Festival in June, we won’t have any robots–just the real, flesh-and-blood folks you’ve enjoyed so much on Dreamland radio shows (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show). We’re just about sold out, so don’t put it off any longer–get your tickets to this delightful weekend today!